Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On Being Vegetarian

I'm coming up to my five year anniversary of being a vegetarian so wanted to share the things I've learnt along the way and advice for anyone who might be considering this way of life. I'm in no way a health or food expert, these are just my observations and personal experiences.

1. You will get a lot of questions. When it comes to discussing the fact that I'm a vegetarian, I've found two types of people. The first are those that want to question and argue against vegetarianism. Thankfully I haven't found myself in too many of those situations and if I do I usually just tell them that I don't eat meat because I like animals and I didn't want to eat them anymore. I try to keep the conversation short because I'm not really an outspoken person. Other people will argue the point further and that's great, but it's not my approach. Don't get me wrong, I think it's very important to know why you've made the choice.

The second are those who seem almost embarrassed or concerned that they are eating meat in front of me. Apart from my brother, the rest of my family are meat-eaters. My boyfriend is a meat-eater and we live together. All of my work colleagues and close friends are meat-eaters. I can count three other friends who are vegetarians but they're people I don't see very often. The point is - I'm surrounded by meat-eaters. It was my choice to become a vegetarian, so don't feel embarrassed or make a fuss over the fact that I don't eat meat. I never go hungry wherever I go and I'd prefer people not to go out of their way. That's just a personal preference. If I wanted to eat meat I could, I just don't want to.
2. Set a goal. If you're thinking about becoming a vegetarian, or even just eating less meat, I find it helps to set a goal or time-frame. You might want to introduce 'Meat-less Mondays' or even try a week without meat. For me, I decided to do it for a month and I told myself if I could last that long I would stick to it, and I haven't looked back.

3. Do your research. I attribute the fact that I became a vegetarian to moving in with my brother, who had already been one for a few years. We were eating vegetarian meals together at home so I became more interested in the lifestyle. I started doing some research, reading about it online and watched a few kinda horrific videos on factory farming. After watching one particular video I had decided that I didn't want to be a part of that kind of cruelty anymore. There are plenty of resources out there and the different opinions can be both extreme and more reasonable. I personally love the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer as I think it's well researched, non-preachy and presents both sides of the factory farming debate.
4. Be aware of what your body needs. It's no secret that in order to stay healthy as a vegetarian you need to make sure you're getting enough protein and vitamins. Some people have lower levels of iron than others and need to be careful. I would definitely recommend getting your blood tested for iron levels and other things like B12. I had mine checked last year and while my iron and B12 were fine, I found out I was low on Vitamin D so I started taking a supplement. This reminds me that I need to get it checked again soon! For me, the secret has been ensuring I have lots of different colours and textures in the foods that I eat. If I don't eat something green each day I feel like I haven't given my body everything it needs for the day. I honestly believe that all the nutrients you need can be found in plant-based foods, but it does take planning and experimentation, which brings me to my next point.

5. Experiment with new recipes and food. I've found since becoming a vegetarian that I've tried so many new cuisines and my cooking has definitely improved. I think it's safe to say that Ben and I have invented the best recipe for vegetarian bean burritos and homemade salsa in the WORLD. The internet is your friend when it comes to vegetarian recipes. I like websites such as Vegan Yum Yum or Veg Web. I have a number of meals I fall back on and eat weekly, but there's a tonne of stuff out there that can be used in unique ways - beans, lentils and grains are super versatile, for example.
6. So, what do you eat? During the week I eat pretty basic meals. Here's some examples:
  • Tempeh spaghetti bolognaise.
  • Kidney bean burritos with homemade salsa, guacamole and lettuce.
  • Big salads with spinach leaves, regular salad items and added proteins like lentils and quinoa (pictured above).
  • Wraps with salad and veggie patties or schnitzels.
  • Vegetable curries with added tofu or chickpeas for protein.
  • Homemade sushi with avocado and cucumber.
  • Pizza - homemade or bought, you can't go wrong with endless topping choices.
I will try and share some recipes here in the future, but my meals usually aren't very scientific. I hope you've found this post interesting or useful. None of it is revolutionary but hopefully it's been worth the read. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments or send me an email.


  1. This is so interesting. I have often thought about trying to be vegetarian. I don't eat much meat as it is but I do have fish a bit. It's a very difficult lifestyle shift to make, well done!


    1. It's a lot easier these days with it being more accepted and therefore more options for eating out etc. Starting out, the hardest thing for me was not eating some of the meals I'd always loved growing up. It definitely gets easier over time though as you learn to really not miss it at all as there are so many other meat-free options out there.

  2. This is great Han! I really admire vegetarians, I don't eat red meat and I wish I could also cut out the chicken/fish etc... Maybe one day. I think you should share your bean burrito recipe :) I love reading your blog.

    1. Thank you lovely! It's encouraging to know people are reading it and enjoying it! Phew. We had burritos last night (it's a weekly staple) and I took some photos so I'm planning to share the recipe later in the week :)

  3. Great post han!! I really admire your commitment to becoming vegetarian as it can't be super easy. I don't eat a lot of red meat but would love to cut it out all together or even become a pescetarian but I can't in my situation at the moment, maybe one day!! definitely share some recipes if you can, i'd be very interested in trying them xo

    1. Thanks love! Glad you enjoyed the post. It can be hard depending on your living situation. For me it really helped that I was living with my brother who was an old hand at the whole thing! Now days with Ben we both eat vegetarian food at home but he'll have meat when we eat out. Anyway, I'll try and think of some good recipes to post!

  4. My sister has been a vegetarian for a couple of years now, she also read the book Eating Animals and swears by it. I admire that she doesn't eat any meat. It really baffles me to meet 'vegetarians' that eat fish... I've lived with a girl who was a vegetarian but ate fish and it was super easy. But I think I would miss the odd steak.. xx

    1. I always get asked if I eat fish! I think it's because a lot of 'vegetarians' do eat it. I was never a big eater before which I think made it easier for me. I really only used to eat chicken and red meat every now and then. Was never a big steak eater. x


Thank you for the love! It is super appreciated.